The story behind Ladurée and its famous macarons

The iconic brand is celebrating its 160th birthday in 2022.



<p>Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Victoria Granof / Prop Styling by Karin Olsen</p>
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Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Victoria Granof / Prop Styling by Karin Olsen

Say the word “macaron” and chances are your mind will instantly go to Ladurée, the French maison that sells cookie sandwiches in all the colors of the rainbow. Although macarons can be found everywhere from high-end bakeries to local supermarkets, Ladurée’s version has become something of a foodie icon. The brand has become synonymous with contemporary haute couture, in part due to the appearance of its macarons on TV shows like Gossip Girl and movies like Marie Antoinette. (In fact, in a 2006 Entertainment Weekly story, Kirsten Dunst said, “Sofia [Coppola] and we kick each other; we should have invested in Ladurée after Marie Antoinette… We reheated the macarons”). But the company itself was not born in the contemporary world; It has been around for 160 years.

There’s a reason why, whether in London or Los Angeles, when you walk into one of Ladurée’s old-style French tea rooms, with their mint green accents and black-and-white checkerboard floors, you feel transported to 19th century Paris. Ladurée began in 1862, when Louis Ernest Ladurée, a French miller, opened a bakery in Paris that eventually became a patisserie, then a socialite café, and then one of the city’s first tea rooms. In 1930, Pierre Desfontaines, Ladurée’s second cousin, expanded the tea room and introduced the macaron we know today, holding two shells of almond flour and meringue that are crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. along with ganache or jam. While the macaron shell has roots in other parts of France (and perhaps Italy via Arabia, where many almond-based pastries originated), Ladurée is credited with popularizing the sandwich version of the cookie.



<p>Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Victoria Granof / Prop Styling by Karin Olsen</p>
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Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Victoria Granof / Prop Styling by Karin Olsen

In the mid-1990s, the French pastry chef Pierre Herme he ran Ladurée’s kitchen and created derivatives of the traditional almond macaron with flavors such as pistachio, rose and salted caramel. Hermé now has his own macaron empire, which has become a rival to Ladurée, but Ladurée is still known for its lofty sandwich cookies.

“We are the macaron brand,” says Elisabeth Holder, CEO of Ladurée US. When Holder’s family company, the Holder Group, purchased Ladurée in 1993, they set out to globalize the brand, opening the first US outpost in New York City in 2011. Since then, the company has has expanded to 104 locations worldwide (including 14 in the US), everywhere from Cannes to Kuwait.

With the launch of a vegan macaron in 2020, Ladurée has also expanded its clientele. They’ve transformed the macaron into ice cream, cocktails, and wedding cakes, and created more than 200 fun flavors, from reliable classics like chocolate to wacky innovations like bubblegum. These pretty touches of color are also the perfect gift for the holidays, and from Ladurée Shipping all over the countryYou can easily gift a box of sweets to your loved ones.

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